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Taking Its Toll: Texting and Driving a Major Safety Concern, Say Canadians in New Survey

Jan. 9, 18
5 mins
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Many Canadian drivers just can’t seem to put down their phones when driving and it’s become an increasing concern for the vast majority of the people in the country. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) conducted a survey in November of last year and asked more than 2,000 Canadians about their views on distracted driving. Of those polled, 96% think that texting and driving is a threat to their personal safety on the road, with 83% saying it’s a bigger issue today than it was three years ago. All of this is despite anti-texting and driving laws that not only come with hefty penalties but also increased auto insurance premiums.

“Canadians still don’t seem to be getting the message,” said Jeff Walker, Chief Strategy Officer, CAA National. “It’s important we all put our devices down and stay focused on the road.”

All Forms of Distracted Driving Are a Concern

Although the study honed in on texting and driving in particular, it also identified other forms of distracted driving that are causing Canadians to worry about road safety. Sending and receiving emails, talking on the phone, and engaging with in-car technologies were also recognized as distracted driving behaviours that Canadians believe are becoming all too common.

Strict Laws Across Canada

In recent years, jurisdictions across Canada have laid down the law when it comes to distracted driving. Big fines and demerit points are meant to act as a deterrent. PEI currently has the strictest laws, with a minimum penalty of a $575 and five demerit points, but the penalties elsewhere in Canada are also considerable:

Province/Territory Penalty

  • British Columbia: $543 fine and four demerit points
  • Alberta: $287 fine and three demerit points
  • Saskatchewan: $280 fine + four demerit points
  • Manitoba: $200 fine and a shift of five levels down the Driver Safety Rating Scale
  • Ontario: $490 fine and three demerit points
  • Quebec: $80 fine and four demerit points, however plans are in the works to increase the penalties significantly
  • New Brunswick: $172.50 fine and three demerit points
  • Nova Scotia: $233.95 fine and four demerit points
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: $300 fine and four demerit points
  • Yukon: $250 fine and three demerit points
  • Northwest Territories: $322 fine and three demerit points
  • Nunavut: Nothing is in force, but this is expected to change by the end of 2018

The Bottom Line

Distracted driving can produce potentially devastating results, and the statistics certainly suggest this to be true. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, for example, found that 27% of fatal crashes in British Columbia were a result of distracted driving, while in Ontario, it’s estimated that one person is injured in a distracted driving-related collision every 30 minutes.

Smartphone functions and notifications can be tempting when you're driving, but avoiding the temptation to drive distracted can avoid tragedy. To reduce the temptation to look at your phone or take part in other distracting behaviours, CAA has these suggestions:

  1. Set your GPS before you leave
  2. Secure loose items in your car
  3. Give your kids what they need before you start driving
  4. Keep two hands on the wheel and no hands on your phone
  5. Don’t groom and try to restrict eating and drinking while driving
Patrick Faller

Patrick is a writer, creative media producer, and award-winning journalist with a love of technology, the arts, and design. He’s passionate about consumer affairs and helping Canadians make the best possible choices when it comes to their finances. You can find him on social media @patfaller.

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